A suspected arson fire caused in excess of $100,000 damage in south Nanaimo on Tuesday, March 23. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

A suspected arson fire caused in excess of $100,000 damage in south Nanaimo on Tuesday, March 23. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

UPDATE: Homeowner frustrated after arsonist burns shed and vintage car in Nanaimo

27-year-old suspect with ‘significant mental health issues’ remained on scene, say RCMP

Nanaimo RCMP have a man in custody following a suspected arson in Harewood, but the homeowner is upset that there will be no accountability for the crime.

A fire was allegedly set in a garage and workshop behind a home on the 400 block of Eighth Street early Tuesday, March 23. Firefighters and police were called at about 4:30 a.m. by the homeowners who reported a man had been on the back porch of their home and was still on their property.

“The homeowner confirmed a suspicious male was in the driveway who may have started the fire,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

Firefighters arrived to find the garage and carport fully engulfed in flames and police arrived to find a suspect on the property who allegedly claimed he was anticipating alien contact. He was arrested on suspicion of arson.

“The suspect, a 27-year-old male of no fixed address, was arrested at the scene without incident and lodged in cells,” O’Brien said. “Members suspect there are significant mental health issues. Our mental health liaison officer has been looped in to this and will be following up before any reports to Crown are completed.”

Cost of the loss from the fire is estimated at more than $100,000, which included the building, tools, fuel and a rare edition of a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle car.

A retired Nanaimo firefighter, Brian Mowatt, said he found the suspect on the deck at the back of his home, peering through a bedroom window. The heat from the burning garage, more than 12 metres away, was starting to melt the siding on the house. Mowatt said he didn’t know if firefighters would arrive in time to save his house.

“So my concern was when this fire hit – the guy’s on my back stairs, I told him to stay there – I ran back to get my father out of the house, not caring about the car,” Mowatt said.

Mowatt, who’d brought his 94-year-old father home to care for him weeks earlier after a lengthy stay in hospital, carried him out of the house and put him in a vehicle a safe distance away. By then it was too late to try to move the car to save it.

The loss of the Chevelle was painful for Mowatt. He had restored the car in memory of his best friend, who died of cancer soon after after he and Mowatt found a convertible model of the car in Florida after a lengthy search.

“He got to drive it once and then he got sick,” Mowatt said. “I took him out once in it and I drove it more after he passed, trying to get it ready to sell it.”

After that car sold, Mowatt found one to restore as an “homage” to their friendship.

“I couldn’t afford a convertible, but I found a Chevelle…” he said. “It’s just stuff, but it was my stuff and this was my homage to my best friend that died … It was one of 444 [built] in a six-cylinder with high options. It wasn’t a high-value car, but it was complete and it was mine … I never once expected someone to come along and light my shop on fire.”

Mowatt knows nothing about the suspect other than what he has learned from police and does not understand why his home was targeted.

“I said, ‘Why. Why would you do this?’ He said, ‘I tried to break in and I couldn’t steal anything, so I set it on fire,’ His exact words,” Mowatt said.

Mowatt said he’s frustrated and feels a sense of loss following the fire.

“We’ve got to change the system, make these people accountable. We have to ensure that the taxpayer is properly protected, even in your own damn home. You have a right to protect your own property, a right to protect your own family and have a right to restitution,” Mowatt said. “Why is the government not held accountable for this? … Why aren’t we putting these people into a structured facility, clean them up, get them their education and make them contribute to society? I don’t see how wrong that is. I really don’t.”

READ ALSO: Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Nanaimo second-hand store

READ ALSO: Arson suspected after fire at business on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArsonfireRCMP

 

A suspected arson fire caused in excess of $100,000 damage in south Nanaimo on Tuesday, March 23. (Photo courtesy Clint Allen)

A suspected arson fire caused in excess of $100,000 damage in south Nanaimo on Tuesday, March 23. (Photo courtesy Clint Allen)

Just Posted

Berwick by the Sea resident Hilda Shilliday, 91, is ready to participate in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers’ Stride to turn the Tide fundraising event that runs April 11-25. Register on the event website for a fee of $20 which goes to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work in Africa, then do any kind of exercise, log the time, distance or whatever and be eligible for a prize package. Photo contributed
91-year-old Vancouver Islander ready to Stride to Turn the Tide

Campbell River’s Hilda Shilliday encourages everyone to support African grandmothers

Exterior of Highland Manor shows at least one broken window, covered with a blanket. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Reclaiming blighted Vancouver Island apartment complex requires more than paint

Improvements to Port Hardy’s troubled Highland Manor are slow and stuck in red tape

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

Carson Grant, general manager of Comox Valley Dodge regularly reaches out to people to assist with vehicles, food, clothes and more. Google Maps photo
Vancouver Islander getting back on her feet thanks to kindness of her community

Woman was living in her broken-down truck in Comox Valley when her call for help was answered

The Town of Lake Cowichan wants to get more people out of their cars. That should be the goal of all of the transportation plans currently under review in the Cowichan Valley. (Gazette file)
Editorial: Time to dream up better transportation options

Vancouver Island needs to ask ‘how are we going to get there from here?’

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

The City of Parksville encourages residents to visit outdoor restaurant patios as part of a social media challenge. (Submitted photo)
Parksville promotes patio patrons to post pictures to support restaurant industry

Patio Challenge: Take a photo of your food for social media

Campbell River’s Repair Cafe is on once again next week at the Sportsplex. It’ll just look a little different than people are used to. Mirror File Photo
Got a broken thing? Repair Cafe is once again looking for stuff to fix

Annual Campbell River service will be a drop-off/pick-up situation due to COVID-19 protocols

Anna Wu, a young golfer from Victoria, came in second at the Masters’ Drive, Chip and Putt challenge at the Augusta National Golf Club on March 4. (Photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Victoria golfer places second at Masters’ Drive, Chip and Putt youth competition

Anna Wu’s chipping challenge hole out was praised by Masters champ Phil Mickelson

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Most Read